Jeong-yoon left the library, walking along a path intersected by light and shadow. The cherry blossoms that had bloomed all over the campus have fallen and the green leaves have become lush. Summer was coming.
The department room was a little noisier than usual. He heard that there will be a sports competition a little later, so it looked like they were busy preparing for it. Of course, Jeong-yoon did nothing. He just watched it like it was someone else’s business. All he had to do was pay some money, wear the department’s T-shirt, eat ice cream in the shade, and wave a cheering stick.
Mi-hee was sitting in the center of the room table. Her expression seemed rather serious. When Jeong-yoon raised his head and made eye contact with Mi-hee, he smiled brightly. Mi-hee’s expression brightened at the same time.
“Jeong-yoon-ah. Come here for a moment.”
Her call felt somewhat suspicious. After being friends for several years, Jeong-yoon had a sense of what was going on. She was certainly smiling, but there was something hidden behind that smile. When Mi-hee’s call wasn’t met with an immediate response, she approached Jeong-yoon herself. Then Mi-hee began urging him persistently.
“Jeong-yoon-ah, you have to play foot volleyball.”
No, it wasn’t an urging; it was an announcement.
Jeong-yoon hadn’t participated in the sports competition even in his first year. Jeong-yoon shook his head and bit his lip.
“No, I don’t have to.”
“You have to.”
“I just finished military service. Let the first and second-year students do it. They have better stamina.”
“You’re a second-year student too.”
“I’m just a returning student. Even among the second-year students, my bones are a bit more worn out.”
Jeong-yoon stretched his thumb and index finger across his finger to show his capability scale. Mi-hee slightly furrowed her eyebrows after hearing those words.
“Nonsense. Besides, the one who was supposed to play foot volleyball, the guy with glasses, what was his name, Jung Soo or something? He can’t play because he sprained his leg.”
“Mi-hee, why can’t you remember the names of your juniors?”
Trying to avoid the main point, she pretended not to grasp the essence of the conversation and ended up receiving a sarcastic remark.
“All the others have other commitments. You’re the only one left.”
“If I run, I’ll get hot and sweaty.”
“And if I sweat, it feels sticky.”
That’s right. Running makes you hot, and if it’s hot, you sweat. When you sweat, it feels sticky. Jeong-yoon didn’t like that. Once again, just to reiterate, he preferred sitting in the shade, eating ice cream, and waving a cheering stick.
Mi-hee clicked her tongue, then grabbed Jeong-yoon’s arm and pulled him to a remote corner near the window. There was no way Jeong-yoon could be pulled around by a woman with thin arms. However, he was a little scared of Mi-hee’s expression and had no choice but to follow along nicely.
Mi-hee arrived at the window and crossed her legs crookedly.
“Last weekend, when we went to the movies, I bought popcorn, nachos, and cola.”
“You bought them because you lost three times in rock-paper-scissors.”
“Anyway. And if you keep saying you don’t want to, what will happen to me in front of the kids?”
Mi-hee clenched her fist and glared at Jeong-yoon. It was a gaze as if staring at an enemy of her father.
No, what with this foot volleyball? Jeong-yoon thought for a moment. But thinking about it again, there was no need for foot volleyball to make Mi-hee uncomfortable.
Come to think of it, Mi-hee had been so good to him all this time. Even in the required class where all the seats were taken, she subtly managed to sneak him in. Sometimes, when he was late, Mi-hee brought him printouts and even willingly copied notes for him. Besides, she played well with Jeong-yoon, who was a somewhat awkward returning student. Yeah, thinking about it, Mi-hee was the savior of his school life.
Finally, Jeong-yoon nodded his head.
“Alright. Put my name on the list.”
“Really? Am I putting your name up now?”
“Yeah. Put it up.”
“Just a moment ago, you were resisting.”
“If it’s hot and I sweat, I’ll just use a mini fan or something.”
He should have just agreed from the beginning. With that thought, Jeong-yoon resolved himself for the sports competition.
A pleasant breeze seemed to come from somewhere. Jeong-yoon’s dark brown hair swayed gently. There was a long line of contrails in the blue sky overhead.
It was peaceful weather. It seems like a perfect day to go out with a packed lunch. However, Jeong-yoon was sitting on the lawn next to the basketball court and drinking a drink.
Today was the day of the sports competition.
The basketball court was already in the midst of a fierce match. Cheers erupted from the juniors sitting on both sides. It was a lively and energetic melody, typical of freshmen. Jeong-yoon sat beside them and mumbled, “Do well, do well,” but soon closed his mouth. To be honest, he found cheering quite bothersome.
On the opposite side, a baseball match was unfolding on the baseball field. However, most of the students from his department, or more narrowly, the female students, had gathered near the basketball court. The reason was obvious. This was because Kang Chae-heon was currently running on a sunny basketball court.
Jeong-yoon quietly stared at Chae-heon on the basketball court. The bright blue department T-shirt looked incredibly well-matched with his dark hair, making him sigh.
‘Everyone is wearing the same clothes, so why is he the only one who shines? Is it because of the love in my eyes?’
While pondering this, Jeong-yoon felt somewhat relieved seeing the admiring looks from the juniors sitting beside him.
“Sunbae, please cheer for him too!”
“I’m already doing it?”
“We have to win basketball to become the overall first place! You need to work even harder!”
Why should I work harder?
Hyang-gi, who was sitting beside him, pushed one of the balloons she was holding toward him. Jeong-yoon awkwardly shook the balloon.Jeong-yoon was the type of person who did what he was told first.
He waved the balloon and stared at the court. He saw Kang Chae-heon. There was only one reason why he was playing there now. It was because he was tall.
‘Sunbae. Can you please attend the basketball game?’
Chae-heon naturally shook his head to his juniors who asked him that question. But soon he looked at Jeong-yoon and out the window alternately, as if he was thinking about something, and then he answered.
The result we faced was the current situation.
Jeong-yoon stopped waving the balloon. Hyang-gi next to him tapped Jeong-yoon’s arm again.
Jeong-yoon waved the balloon again like a doll with its strings loose.
‘Now that I think about it, I really liked basketball in high school. I also watch all the NBA broadcasts.’
One of the juniors dribbled the ball and threw it towards Chae-heon. As soon as Chae-heon received the basketball, cheers erupted from everywhere. Even from the opposing team, which could be considered rivals.
At that point, Jeong-yoon somehow felt a little resentful. How happy must the life of a talented person be. He gets complimented for catching a ball.
Chae-heon caught the ball in the air and threw it toward the ring as soon as his feet touched the ground. Swish! The ball flew into the net, and simultaneously, cheers and screams erupted from all directions. Jeong-yoon found the reaction amusing and secretly laughed again.
Chae-heon’s t-shirt fluttered as he moved. And between them, a glimpse of his firm-looking abs was revealed.
“Woah. Chae-heon sunbae’s abs are amazing.”
Hyang-gi, who was sitting next to him, put down the balloon she was waving and expressed genuine admiration. Jeong-yoon shook his shoulders and laughed, then placed his hand on her chin and pushed it slightly, making her close her mouth.
“Hyang-gi. A fly might get in.”
“Oh my. Did I just have my mouth open?”
“Yeah, quite wide.”
“Did drool come out?”
“No, you managed to avoid that.”
Haha, Hyang-gi laughed and vigorously waved the balloon again. Jeong-yoon, finding the sight cute, also picked up his balloon. The Business Department was winning.
‘Goodness, this is tough.’
Jeong-yoon inwardly groaned. After the boys’ basketball and girls’ volleyball matches, the scene before him now was the foot volleyball match he participated in.
Even though it was afternoon after lunch, the blazing sun relentlessly poured down on his face. When he played foot volleyball, it was hot, and when it was hot, he was sweating, and when he was sweating, he felt uncomfortable, so he didn’t want to play. And now, Jeong-yoon was hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable.
“Seo Jeong-yoon! Fake it! Pass it!”
Min-soo, sitting in the cheering section, shouted. Jeong-yoon nodded and ran towards the ball flying into his area. Then he tried to pass it to the other side but… the ball only met empty air. Min-soo, who was watching, wrinkled his forehead and muttered.
“Seo Jeong-yoon, that dribble of yours…”
The ball passed by Jeong-yoon’s feet and flew away. Jeong-yoon stood at a distance, then turned his head and gazed across the sky. One might say he was avoiding the situation.
Yes. Jeong-yoon was a bit lacking in motor skills. He was good at running, push-ups, and hanging for long periods of time, but he was terrible at ball sports like basketball and soccer. If he grabbed a basketball, it was easily stolen, and if he played soccer, he would almost certainly tumble over his own feet.
The same may be said for foot volleyball. It was difficult to catch the ball when it came flying. He just received a direct hit to the face after failing to hit the ball properly while attempting to bounce it with his head. As Jeong-yoon sat down while holding his nose, Chae-heon, who was sitting near the cheering seats, went over to him and covered his face, almost causing his coffee to spill in the process.
“Are you okay?”
Chae-heon asked, putting his hand on Jeong-yoon’s cheek. Though they’d known each other for years, it was the first time he saw that expression on his face. The hand that touched him was warm and large.
Chae-heon’s concerned voice in his ear was so sweet and his smooth face was so close to him that he was startled and pushed Chae-heon away. Meanwhile, Jeong-yoon was taken aback by how firm Chae-heon’s chest felt under his palm.
That was it anyway. He couldn’t exercise. People couldn’t be good at everything. If he was good-looking, kind, and good at studying, that was enough. Wishing for him to be good at sports as well would be too greedy. At least, that’s what Jeong-yoon thought as he rationalized it to himself.
‘…That’s why I don’t want to do it.’
He remained there blankly and looked the other way while his junior picked up the ball. The male juniors competing together looked at Jeong-yoon with resentful eyes, unable to say anything, while the female juniors cheered for Seo Jeong-yoon.
“Fighting Development Sunbae!”
And Mi-hee also shouted.
“It’s okay! You’re cute!”
Not particularly wanting to be cute, Jeong-yoon kicked the ball flying towards him again. Whack! And the ball flew through the air, drawing a parabola. Of course, it wasn’t heading in the right direction.
For some reason, Jeong-yoon felt like crying.